Greg Biffle ... will he stay or will he go?
Change teams for more money or stay with Roush Fenway and try to win a championship? That's the big question facing Greg Biffle, writes Marty Smith.
Updated: May 14, 2008, 3:28 PM ETBy Marty Smith | ESPN.com
It's always good to get back home and be reminded of what's it really all about. Marty, I'm a huge Roush Fenway fan, and I have a few questions about my team. What's the latest on Greg Biffle? Will he stay or will some other team pay him too much to say no? And what about David Ragan?! Give him some love, man!-- Samantha Jacobs, Charlotte, N.C.Biffle first, Samantha. Big money is certainly floating around out there for him. Teams offer drivers like Biffle -- who is widely considered among the most talented wheelmen in Cup -- stupid money just to sit in the seat. Elite drivers make millions just to fire the engine each week, not including their respective percentage of weekly race winnings, personal endorsements and such.
Successful, marketable drivers have a lot of leverage. But it's quite rare to be in Biffle's position. There are a thousand very talented drivers all over this country, but only a select few get that key opportunity for destiny. And only a select few of those are able to capitalize on it. And only a select few of those win. And only a select few of those win enough to earn the leverage Biffle has right now. Question is, what does he want? Does he want to pad his bank account or contend for more wins? He'd make less money at Roush than at some other organizations, but the difference is likely marginal. And he can win at Roush Fenway. Say what you want, but few teams offer that variable these days.That's why I think he'll stay put, despite his recent frustrations about his team. He said at Richmond he was sure he'd stay at Roush. I believe that.As for Ragan, I couldn't be more impressed. I was discussing that with him at Darlington on Friday evening. He was a pinball as a rookie, but he's matured tremendously as a driver this season. Last year he had a ridiculous learning curve. Not only was he a rookie, but he was a rookie driving three different types of cars -- the Busch car, the old Cup car and the COT. I'm glad Jack Roush had patience with him, because he truly is talented. And he's a good kid, too. He had the quote of the weekend at Darlington. In discussing his fifth-place finish in the Dodge 500, he said it reminded him of grade-school math. Here he was with Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in front of him and Matt Kenseth in his rearview mirror. "It was like, which one doesn't belong?" Ragan chuckled. "Me."He's proving otherwise, huh?Hey Marty, Since this whole Junior vs. Shrub [Kyle Busch] fiasco has now reached critical mass in the overblown hype category, I wanted to clarify something. On this site, and everywhere else for that matter, it seems the hot ticket is to say young Shrub is the new Dale Earnhardt. Interesting, but ultimately flawed and rather stupid. Now I will be first to admit that the elder Earnhardt (in his early days) and young Shrub share some uncanny on-track traits -- like knocking people around, ruffling feathers and generally not caring if folks like it or not. But let me be clear, aside from a shared affinity for on-track altercations, the two could not be further apart. Earnhardt grew to be the people's champ by being known as a scrapper who came up rough and always stayed true to his blue-collar roots. An Everyman who people could relate to. Especially those of us who work hard all week and tow to local short tracks on the weekend. Shrub, on the other hand, comes off as more of a petulant child in a fast car. The kind of kid that many of us see every weekend at our local tracks. He's got the rich dad and the best stuff and brings enough people with him every weekend to keep him from catching a beating after the races are over. Folks in the media seem to think that like Earnhardt, Shrub will eventually race his way into our hearts with his aggressive, caution-to-the-wind style and fulfill the role of the lovable black hat that has been missing since Earnhardt's death. Shrub can wreck all the people he wants and win all the races he wants, but he will never find a place in the hearts of the working man. Whether it's perception or reality, he will never be viewed as one of us. -- Tom S. Logan, Iowa I asked Busch about that at Darlington, Tom, and he (of course) admitted it was flattering to draw comparisons to Ironhead, but made it abundantly clear that he's just trying to be his own man. That's good, because he ain't Earnhardt. It's actually unfair to Busch to go there, but I get it. Maybe I'm wrong, but I just don't think stories like Earnhardt's could happen anymore. Poor kids don't much race these days, and the thought of a ninth-grade dropout making it to Cup is ridiculous.
AP Photo/Patrick CollardGreg Biffle said after a last-place finish at Darlington that he wanted his team to be more accountable.
with Marty Smith
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